All posts tagged electric car

Electric Vehicles Promote Green Living

Consumers seeking to reduce their impact on the environment can easily make changes by taking into account various electric vehicles now on the market. Most car manufacturers offer at least one model, vehicles that have no emissions and offer the equivalent of greater than 100 mpg driving. Going electric may be advantageous to you, so consider the following when exploring this new vehicle purchase option to achieve your green living goals.

Definition

To choose electric vehicle means to define an electric vehicle. The EV category is broad and includes all vehicles that have at least partial electric generating capabilities including hybrids, hydrogen fuel cell and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

Pure electric vehicles run only electricity only and are charged in to replenish the energy source. Such vehicles include the Tesla Roadster, the battery electric Ford Focus, CODA Sedan, Mitsubishi i-MieV, Toyota RAV4 EV and the Fiat 500E. Some models are available in limited markets, such as California, while others have a broader distribution range.

Environmental

It goes without saying that EVs are environmentally friendly vehicles with just a small impact on the environment. That impact includes the energy they derive from coal-generated power plants and the eventual disposal of worn out parts.

The Environmental Protection Agency notes that EVs convert approximately 59 to 62 percent of its energy used to power the wheels compared with 17 to 21 percent for conventional gasoline engines. Electricity is a domestic energy source and can be derived from coal, solar, nuclear, hydro and wind generating power sources.

Challenges

To paint an accurate picture of EVs, consumers must be aware of certain shortcomings that must be weighed when exploring EV purchase. Those shortcomings include vehicle range, recharge times, battery cost and the weight of electric vehicles.

Most EVs have a driving range of at least 70 miles to no more than 100 miles. One model, the pricey Tesla S, has a range of more than 250 miles. Recharge times can interrupt your trip and take four to eight hours to complete. Faster recharges with a quick charge recharger can replenish your battery to 80 percent charge capacity in just 20 to 30 minutes. The limited range of such vehicles produces what is called "range anxiety" for potential buyers, enough to chase many people away from considering EVs.

Because EVs are powered by technologically advanced and expensive electric propulsion systems that store energy in lithium-ion or similar batteries, these cars cost far more than equivalent gas-powered models. Those costs are passed along to the consumer, but can be partially defrayed by taking a federal tax credit of up to $7,500 per vehicle. Also, the bulkier battery systems mean that cabin or storage room, sometimes both, are restricted by the battery pack’s intrusion into the car.

Considerations

While an EV may be desirable for some consumers, car shoppers can eliminate range anxiety and achieve a more positive environmental impact by choosing one of various hybrid models available. Such models can tap a back up energy source, an internal combustion engine, when needed and effectively extend range by hundreds of miles. Consumers still get available electric-only power, producing a net reduction in emissions and fuel use compared to conventional cars. Models to consider include the Toyota Prius, Chevrolet Volt, Ford Fusion Energi, Toyota Camry Hybrid, Ford C-MAX, Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, Kia Optima Hybrid, Chevrolet Malibu ECO and Cadillac ELR.

The long range prospects for EVs improves as these cars gain wider adoption and costs begin to fall as such vehicles become mass produced. Volume production spreads costs across more models, enabling car manufacturers to hold prices steady or reduce them as demand increases and technology improves. As that happens green living will become more commonplace, enabling all of us to enjoy a cleaner environment.

Author Information
Neil Dunsmore is a consumer energy expert, helping ordinary Americans secure extraordinary deals on their energy bills. Visit Electric.com for more information.

Hybrid Electric Vehicle Shopping Considerations

Hybrid vehicles continue to grow in importance, offering consumers the best of two possible worlds: vehicle electrification and extended range. By making use of electric motors and a gasoline engine, a hybrid electric vehicle ensures that you can take that long trip without having to plug-in someplace and wait hours for a recharge.

The Toyota Prius is synonymous with "hybrid," but there are other models for you to consider. Read on for tips on how to buy a hybrid electric vehicle, representing one of the most fuel efficient and cleanest car segments sold today.

General Definitions

What is a hybrid vehicle? Well, for starters, it is officially called a hybrid electric vehicle, one of several types of vehicles that offer at least some kind of vehicle electrification.

All hybrids make use of two fuel systems. Today, those systems are a gas-powered internal combustion engine and electric motors. The gas engine is paired with a transmission to turn the wheels. The electric motor may make use of a generator and regenerative braking to produce electricity that is sent to and stored in a battery system. Such systems original used nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries, but in recent years most manufacturers have switched to lithium-ion (li-ion) or lithium-polymer (li-poly) batteries that are lighter weight and more efficient.

Plug-in or Not

Traditional hybrid vehicles receive electricity onboard, with no need to plug-in to an outlet to draw current. Today, your hybrid vehicle options have expanded as there are models that can be plugged in. Models, including the Chevrolet Volt, the Ford C-MAX Energi and the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, do plug in and offer an advantage of running on electric-only power longer than traditional hybrids. If your trips are mostly local, you’ll put some serious space between gas station visits, lowering your fuel costs and reducing the amount of emissions dumped into the air.

Another advantage of a plug-in vehicle is that there are tax deduction benefits offered, something that traditional hybrids no longer have. Your tax benefit is determined by the federal government and depends largely on the vehicle you select as well as your tax bracket. Buy a Chevrolet Volt and you may be eligible for a $7,500 tax credit; with the PHEV Prius, your tax benefit is up to $2,500. State and local benefits may also be available.

Cost Premium

When buying a hybrid, you’ll pay more for this vehicle then you would for a comparably equipped gasoline model. The difference is typically from $3,000, but you may notice cars that are priced at least $5,000 higher. What you need to do here is compare equipment levels. For instance, the Ford Fusion Hybrid comes in about $8,000 more than the base Fusion model. On closer inspection the difference is about $2,500 as the Fusion Hybrid offers a trim level comparable to the Fusion SEL.

With a cost premium in play, you’ll want to determine how long it will take for you to recoup the extra cost. One way to figure that out is to compare the fuel economy between like models. The example of the Ford Fusion is a good one — the 2012 edition gets 23 mpg city, 33 mpg highway for a combined 26 mpg. The Fusion Hybrid gets 41 mpg city, 36 mpg for a combined 39 mpg. If you drive 15,000 miles per year, then your gas cost at $3.50 per gallon would be calculated as follows:

15,000 miles divided by 26 mpg equals 577 gallons. Multiply 577 by $3.50 per gallon and your annual fuel costs are $2,020.

With the Fusion Hybrid you’ll divide 15,000 by 39 and get 385 gallons. Multiply 385 by $3.50 and your annual fuel costs are $1,348. That means you’ll save $672 per year. If your hybrid has a $5,000 price premium than it will take you nearly 7 and one-half years to recoup your cost. Clearly, buy a hybrid if you expect to keep it at least that long and you think that gas prices will only go higher.

What Size

Most hybrid models come in smaller sizes, but there are some vehicles such as the full-size Chevrolet Tahoe SUV and the big Lexus LS 600h L sedan that are also sold. Familiarize yourself with the various models offered and consider only those that meet your needs.

Some hybrid models lose as much as 20 percent of trunk storage capacity as the battery pack juts into the trunk. Other hybrids take away rear seating space for the same reason.

Most hybrids are paired with a single-speed transmission, although some have regular automatic or continuously variable transmissions. You will want to test drive the models that interest you, taking it out on the open road and driving it extensively around town. Learn if the power offered is sufficient for your needs — hybrids get horsepower from both energy sources, therefore you won’t lack the get up and go to get moving with such vehicles.

HEV Considerations

Every hybrid vehicle comes with a hybrid warranty, covering the electrical parts including motors, generators and battery packs. By law, the minimum warranty for the battery system alone is 8 years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first. Some states, such as California and New Jersey, mandate a 10-year or 150,000 mile warranty. In any case, familiarize yourself with the maintenance procedures for a hybrid and follow these carefully, to ensure that you enjoy the maximum benefit of owning one.

Resources

FuelEconomy.gov: Federal Tax Credits for Plug-In Hybrids — http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/taxphevb.shtml

U.S. Department of Energy: Alternative Fuels Data Center — http://www.afdc.energy.gov/

Chris Joseph is a freelance writer and media consultant currently working with AutoFair.

Honda Fit Gets Outfitted With an Electric Battery System

Honda’s popular subcompact Fit now offers full vehicle electrification. For 2013, an electric vehicle model enters the Fit fleet, joining the standard gas-powered four-door hatchback. The all-new Fit EV uses no gas and has zero tailpipe emissions output, and is rated as the most efficient passenger car by the EPA.

Unlike some EVs, Honda used its proven Fit platform for this model. The differences between the two include the vehicle’s dashboard and overall weight, the latter accounting for a 20 kilowatt lithium-ion battery pack, a synchronous electric motors and related components.

Modern Interior

The dashboard is as striking as it is modernistic, featuring displays that are brightly lit and intuitive. Behind the steering wheel is a colorful three-gauge display, one that includes a three-mode drive system to give you the performance level that you desire. Choose Sport mode for optimum power, Econ mode for maximum efficiency or Normal mode to balance the two.

To the right of the instrument and positioned in the center stack is Honda’s satellite-linked navigation system with voice recognition and a rear view camera. This system is standard and employs concentric range circles to help you determine how far you can travel on a single charge. This system is also designed to help you find the nearest 240-volt charging station via a talk button located on the steering wheel.

Honda’s green credentials are further enhanced in the Fit as this model makes use of bio fabric seats. These seats are made from a sugarcane-based material, providing a comfortable and breathable seating surface front and back. The driver and front passenger are treated to heated bucket seats; the second row offers a 60/40 split bench for three people.

Electric Power

The front-wheel-drive Honda Fit EV is powered by a 123-horsepower electric motor with 189 foot-pounds of torque. This vehicle can drive up to 82 miles on a single charge and offers the equivalent of 118 mpg, the highest rating ever for a production car.

Charging time is in as little as three hours when utilizing a 240-volt charger. Simply pull up to the charging station, connect your Fit EV with the supplied cord and you’re ready to replenish your car. For quick, emergency charges the Fit EV comes equipped with an onboard 32-amp charger that gives you 17 percent recharger capacity in just 30 minutes. This is ideal in the event you go outside of your range and run low on electrical power. Fortunately, your car will warn you when it needs to be recharged with that information displayed on the instrument panel.

You can also check your Fit’s electric consumption remotely by way of your smartphone’s app. That app also allows you to activate the climate control system before you get into your car.

Model Dimensions

The Honda Fit EV sits on a 98.4-inch wheelbase and is 162.0 inches long by 62.2 inches wide and by 67.7 inches tall. This model weighs 3,252 pounds and offers 89.3 cubic feet of passenger volume. Standard cargo storage is 12.0 cubic feet, expandable to 49.2 cubic feet with the rear seat folded down. Not all electric vehicles allow for the rear seat to be completely folded down as the battery pack obstructs seat utility. Honda provides an electric car with the greatest versatility possible.

Front head room measures 40.4 inches; there is 37.3 inches in the rear. Front leg room comes in at 41.3 inches up front and 35.2 inches in the rear. Front shoulder room is 52.7 inches; rear shoulder room measures 51.1 inches. Hip room for the front seat comes in at 51.5 inches and measures 45.0 inches in the back.

Comfort and Convenience

The Honda Fit EV is loaded with your favorite comfort and convenience features. This model comes equipped with automatic climate control, Honda’s telematics system, a voice-recognition navigation system, a rear view camera, Bluetooth connectivity and power accessories. Also, you get cruise control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a tilt and telescopic steering column, 10 beverage holders, storage compartments and pockets, map lights, a 12-volt power outlet, floor mats and a rear window defroster.

Its standard audio system features 6 speakers, 160 watts of power, an MP3 player, a radio data system, volume control, as USB audio interface and an auxiliary input jack.

Lease One

Introduced in summer 2012, the Honda Fit EV is available for lease only. Well-qualified consumers can get a Fit EV for $389 per month, putting $389 down and paying taxes and tags. This cost includes collision coverage, roadside assistance service and your maintenance costs, providing a transparent cost structure as you evaluate this capable electric vehicle.

Author Information
George Zeed lives in Grants Pass, Oregon and works for www.impactbattery.com. An avid outdoorsman and environmentalist, he writes about topics related to all kinds of recreational vehicles and accessories including the best battery chargers.